Judge rules that accused cop killer is mentally fit for death penalty if found guilty

John Hernandez Felix confers with his attorney Michael Rowlands in the Indio Larson Justice Center in October 2016.
(Kurt Miller/The Press-Enterprise via Associated Press, Pool)

A judge has ruled that the man accused of killing two Palm Springs police officers during an ambush-style attack is mentally fit to be executed if found guilty.

In his ruling on Friday, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Anthony R. Villalobos rejected a motion filed by defense attorneys to strike the death penalty for John Hernandez Felix, 28, asserting he was too intellectually disabled to face capital punishment.

Felix faces two counts of murder with the special circumstances of multiple murders, murder of a police officer in the line of duty and lying in wait.


Authorities say that during the Oct. 8, 2016, slayings, Felix used an assault rifle with an extended magazine to fire on Officers Lesley Zerebny, 27, and Jose “Gil” Vega, 63, through a metal security gate.

The officers had responded just after noon that day to a disturbance at Felix’s home.

The officers were wearing ballistic vests at the time of the attack, officials said. Felix, who was wearing body armor during the confrontation, was arrested after a lengthy standoff.